Not a Bridge too Fair

East, East Coast
Thursday, May 13, 2010
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A rendering of a proposed replacement for the Goethals Bridge. It may look different in the end, as the bridge is being developed as a public-private partnership, but the Port Authority seems committed to a strong design regardless. (Courtesy PA)

Ever since the tragic collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, politicians and public authorities nationwide have been scrambling to get theirs up to code. New bridges, or at least proposals for them, abound, some nice, some not so much. Fortunately, the Port Authority appears committed to a high-design bridge. The authority released a request for information [PDF] this week, a precursor to an RFQ. The Observer picked up on the PA’s interest in building the thing with a public-private partnership, an approach with a mix of benefits—no upfront costs—and risks—less control or long-term revenue. But what is promising, nonetheless, is the PA’s commitment to constructing what could be called a statement bridge. Read More

Straphangers with Fins

East
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
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For years, the MTA has been dumping decommissioned subway cars into the ocean to create artificial reefs for marine life. If you’ve ever wondered if it works, YouTube appears to have the answer. This video shows fish and a giant turtle swimming amid old red bird subway cars. The juxtaposition of the natural and manmade in such an unlikely location is a delight to watch. Next stop, the ocean floor! (via Huffington Post).

Beaming Up the City

East, East Coast
Monday, May 10, 2010
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A Shrike Commander twin-prop plane at twilight, like the ones being used to map New York at night. (Courtesy Texas Aviation)

If you were in New York any time during the last half of the last month, while you slept, you were being zapped with lasers. Or rather, the buildings you slept in. This according to a downright cool story in the Times today reporting that the city has been using a small prop plane to develop far-and-away the most detailed map we’ve ever seen. Like Robert Moses’s famed Panorama dozen times over, “but more accurate and digital,” as Rohit Aggarwala, the departing sustainability czar, told the Grey Lady. More than just creating a solar map of the city’s building stock, the aerial study is beginning to turn up an incredible data set, including all the pitch roofs capable of accommodating solar panels, how much—if any, sadly—of our wetlands remain, and even “zoning changes and stricter building codes.” And here you thought lasers were only good for tag, lasik, and jedi.

Mind Your Manors

East
Monday, May 10, 2010
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Winterthur Museum: Coming to a home near you.

In these days of shrinking endowments, museums have to do what they can to make a buck. In the case of Delaware’s Winterthur Museum, that means endorsing a new line of pre-engineered houses from Vermont company Connor Homes.

Read More

Recycling Finally on NYC Streets?

East, East Coast
Monday, May 10, 2010
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Council members Peter Vallone, Christine Quinn, Jessica Lappin, Jimmy Van Bramer, and Letitia James in Astoria earlier today, pushing for more recycling bins in the city. (William Alatriste)

When was the last time you found yourself on a city street, empty water bottle or given-up-on crossword in hand? Being the conscientious New Yorker you are, no doubt you looked around for a recycling bin to deposit your refuse in. Odds are, you didn’t find any nearby, as the city—so often held up as a green beacon—is woefully lacking in recycling receptacles. That could change soon, with the passage of a package of recycling-related legislation that was unveiled just before Earth Day last month. Since the launch of a public recycling pilot program in 2007, there are now 300 bins scattered across the city. The council hopes to double that number within three years of the legislation’s passage and increase it to 1,000 within a decade. But the city has a long way to go, considering there are more than 25,000 “corner baskets” located in the five boroughs. Read More

Meierland

East
Thursday, May 6, 2010
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Meier's model village, with the Getty Center in foreground. (Photo: Scott Frances/Courtesy Richard Meier & Partners)

An important part of Richard Meier’s design process is his use of scale models—usually beautifully crafted of wood—to consider a physical form in its broader context. In-house model makers are often asked to fabricate multiple iterations of projects, and the firm is famous for its elegant presentation models, such as the one for his extraordinary gridded skyscraper (designed with Steven Holl, Charles Gwathmey, and Peter Eisenman) for the World Trade Center competition. Fortunately, Meier has not only kept many of his models, some going back 40 years like the Smith House in Connecticut, but also a spectacular series of working models for the Getty Center (above). These are kept in Meier’s model museum—a loft space in Long Island City that is opened to the public starting tomorrow, May 7, through August 27 (the museum is closed to the public during the winter months, due to the climate’s impact on the models). Tours can be arranged through Richard Meier & Partners Architects at 212-967-6060.

The Wright Ingredients

East, East Coast
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
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Welcome to the Wright, now approved by two dead baldmen. (Courtesy Andre Kikoski Architects)

Local boy Andre Kikoski won the James Beard Award today for his flashy new restaurant inside the Guggenheim Museum. It replaced the once dowdy cafeteria designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, for whom the award-winning eatery is named, long a vestigial space tucked in under the museum’s sweeping rotunda. Now all flashy curves and color, Kikoski’s space, which opened in January, was even considered a might bit better than the food served therein by New York food critic Adam Platt. The Wright beat out another local spot, Brooklyn’s Choice Kitchens & Bakery by Evan Douglis Studio, and Greensboro, Alabama’s PieLab, designed by Project M. Kikoski joins recent award winners Thomas Schleeser of Design Bureaux (2009) for Chicago’s Publican, Tadao Ando (2008) for Morimoto New York, Lewis Tsuramaki Lewis (2007) for New York’s (now defunct) Xing, Bentel and Bentel (2006) for the Modern… (We’re noticing a trend here, which maybe helps explain why the food in the city is so darn good.)

U.N., Me, and Everyone We Know

East
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
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The U.N. complex, shown in its pre-renovation state, is returning to its techno-utopian roots. (UN Photo/Lois Conner)

One might think that the $1.9 billion overhaul of the United Nations Headquarters would be a multiple-stakeholder quagmire of Ground Zero proportions. However, as Michael Adlerstein, executive director of the U.N. Capital Master Plan, put it in a fascinating April 27 presentation, the consensus-based organization actually made it easier to push major decisions through, since the “joint stepping on of many toes” allowed various U.N. members to at least feel that they were being inconvenienced equally. Read More

Spare Land-Use Change?

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 29, 2010
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Community groups and unions protest the Kingsbridge Armory, a project that died in part because of its CBA arrangements—or lack thereof. (Matt Chaban)

Yesterday, the Times ran an interesting story about the potential illegality of Community Benefit Agreements, as determined in a report by the New York City Bar Association. The report argues such agreements should not be fostered by the city, even if there is nothing that can be done to stop a developer from negotiating with local community groups—something the bar believes can lead to corruption—and, failing that, not to allow the agreements to have a bearing on land-use decisions. The Times’ article concludes with a note of resignation, though, that CBAs are here to stay, so deal with it. What a capital idea! In fact, the reason this story rang so true with us is that it sounds a lot like one of the issues that came up while working on our piece on the Charter Revision Commission. Herewith is yet more reason to take a serious look at land-use issues and not just term limits.

Home Movies at Tribeca

East, East Coast
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
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Susan Morris sends along her recommendations for the Tribeca Film fest, which ends Sunday, including her favorite, My Queen Karo, above.

For those interested in films that include architecture, a number of entries in the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival may be of perplexing interest. Striking, in particular, is the number of films where homes are the sights of hothouse mayhem. Here’s my guide to who did what to whom and, above all, where. Read More

Eavesdrop NY 08

East
Monday, April 26, 2010
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The Mark Dendy Dance Theater troupe performs outside the new North Carolina Museum of Art during its grand opening festival. (NCMA/Flickr)

BEFORE SUBZERO, REFRIGERATORS WERE WHITE (OR AVOCADO)
Eavesdrop jetted to pollen-crusted Raleigh, NC, with an eclectic herd of reporters from the likes of Sculpture magazine and The Jewish Daily Forward to tour the North Carolina Museum of Art expansion designed by Thomas Phifer. We were not disappointed. The 127,000-square-foot museum is an elegant, single-story box penetrated by courtyards, pools, and gardens. The interior and exterior details are so deliciously subtle that they seemed to elude some of the mainstream press, who asked him why he didn’t site the building to dominate the street. Articulate and precise, Phifer hypnotized the skeptics by explaining every strategy convincingly, and they hung on his every word. (Check out AN correspondent Thomas de Monchaux’s own critical appraisal in our next issue.) Read More

Some Serious Equipment

East, East Coast
Thursday, April 22, 2010
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Tip drill? Sorta—it's the cutter head, which will do all the heavy cutting for the Second Avenue Subway. (Courtesy MTA)

It would appear the Second Avenue Subway is really, truly happening. Not to have doubted all the construction work that’s gone on so far, but we have been-there-done-that about half-a-dozen times over the past century. Now, however, the 200-ton Cutter Head has arrived, the main piece of the Tunnel Boring Machine that will begin carving out the tunnels for the first phase of the new line. The MTA posted some pretty cool pics of the device, including the one above, on its Facebook page. And if that weren’t socially networked enough, there’s a YouTube flick of the thing being lowered underground with a soundtrack that sounds oddly like that of a softcore sex scene in some ’90s movie. Second Avenue Sagas points out that this is largely “symbolic,” as the real challenge, technically and fiscally, is not digging but building the lines and stations. That said, we still wonder if all this money wouldn’t be better spent on maintaining service than pushing ahead with capital projects, even if it does mean their nth death. While you ponder, the flick and more pics after the jump. Read More

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